Capital: Phnom Penh
Currency: Riel (KHR)
There is an old Khmer proverb in Cambodia that goes, “lbaeng taeng vineah (Khmer: ល្បែងតែងវិនាស)”. This roughly translates to “Gambling destroys Life” and as such, gambling is illegal for the locals.
Although a 50,000 Riel ($12) and a one-month prison term has been stipulated as the penalty for gambling, locals continue to gamble while the government looks the other way.
Gambling and poker is well spread out across the country with establishments in no less than 13 different cities in Cambodia. Locals enter the casinos freely without any fuss whatsoever. This can be explained by the fact that gambling generates about US$29 million in revenue to the Cambodian government every year, and USD 2 billion in income for the casinos.
But this is not at all surprising because apart from the revenue that casinos generate, there is a Cambodian belief that a man who does not gamble is not masculine enough.
– Playing Live Poker in Cambodia –
Live Poker Legislation in Cambodia
Gambling has been illegal since the reign of the Khmer Rouge. But in the 1990s, the government decided to start building casinos near the border to attract foreigners (passport required, allowing Cambodians with dual citizenship to legally gamble). Now, especially the Thais and the Vietnamese cross over and play while locals have been prohibited from enjoying the same leisure since 1996. However, this law is said to be weakly enforced, and local players are said to be able to gamble with little interference from the government.
This has proven to be successful as the country enjoyed great revenue from the existence of these border casinos. They are considered to be a cash cow that the Cambodian government could not now live without.
Live Poker Venues in Cambodia
There are over 70 land-based casinos operating in Cambodia. The more popular border casino strips are Bavet on the Vietnamese border and Poipet and O Smach on the Thai boundary. Lots of Chinese, Thai, and 3,000 Vietnamese gamblers travel to Cambodia every day to play at their casinos, where rake is also considerably lower.
NagaWorld, located at the heart of Phnom Penh, is the undisputed king of casinos in Cambodia. Having a monopoly of over a 200km2 radius of the capital, NagaWorld is the main casino to go to in South Indochina to play poker.
Outside of Phnom Penh, there are also the Queenco Hotel & Casino in the coastal city of Sihanoukville, and Holiday Palace in Poipet offering the game of poker.
Because of the limited options for poker in Cambodia, unauthorized venues are available and can easily be found, especially in Phnom Penh. Illegal games are growing at a rapid pace as the underground mafia looks to capitalize on the gambling industry. A number of illegal gambling establishments have been set up in Cambodia’s southwestern coastal destination and operate under false business names. These establishments are well-organized and not only provide gambling services but also other forms of adult entertainment, including prostitution. Information on underground poker venues in Cambodia can be found on popular poker forums such as the Two Plus Two poker forum (at your own risk!). This underground scene is flocked by politicians, military generals and wealthy Khmer businessmen, so again, beware of who you’re playing with.
The Asian Poker Tour has a stop in Cambodia, Sihanoukville.
– Casinos and Poker Rooms in Cambodia –
Nagaworld Phnom Penh
Two tables with a $1/$2 limit every day. The rake for games is good enough compared to its counterpart in other Asian countries.
Oriental Pearl Poker
Oriental Pearl Poker in Sihanoukville is a Poker room where you’ll find daily Cash Games and regular tournaments.
Riverking Phnom Penh
Game tables of No Limit Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha open on a daily basis. Sundays are reserved for tournaments.
Vogue Poker Club
Vogue Poker Club is located in the heart of Sihanoukville, just a minute walk from the Serendipity Pier. Cash Games start at 6PM.
– Play Online Poker in Cambodia –
Online Poker Legislation in Cambodia
Under the 1996 Law on Suppression of Gambling, online gambling is declared illegal. There are no online casino vendors legally licensed to operate from within Cambodia. The country is one of the few places in the world where people have been arrested for gambling online. We do not recommend you play at an online casino in Cambodia unless you are a foreign national.
Despite this, many of the world’s leading online casinos continue to offer their services to Cambodian players. This is because the online casinos are located and licensed offshore, so technically they run in accordance with the local laws, and the Justice Department tends to focus on individuals rather than overseas organizations.
It is highly unlikely you will find an online casino site which accepts payments using the Cambodian riel (KHR). Commonly accepted online casino payment options include Visa, MasterCard, Neteller, Skrill, Paysafecard, ecoPayz, Entropay and direct bank deposits, but if you are playing from Cambodia, you should consider a web wallet or pre-paid e-Voucher for extra protection. Most Cambodian banks will not transfer money to online gambling sites. And for the ones who do, processing fees are high and transfers can sometimes take up to two weeks to be completed.
Skrill and Neteller both work from Cambodia, as long as you have a bank statement and a passport. But beware: some bank branches now automatically associate Skrill with online gambling and can refuse to make transfers.
It is also highly recommended that you use a trusted VPN (virtual private network) for additional security.
WiFi connections aren’t always reliable, but Cambodia has pretty good internet when it comes to 3G/4G.